About seven or eight years ago, my father called me from Dharamshala and said "Puja, tu mummy ko samjha. Sara din games khelti rehti hai." Translated, it meant I should drive some sense into my mother and make her to stop playing computer games all day long. I only laughed and mock scolded my mom, but honestly, even that was like the pot calling the kettle black.
The fact is that obsessive game playing is in our blood and goes back generations. My grandma's day wouldn't be complete until she completed her daily crossword. A conversation with her would usually include a couple of crossword clues she hadn't been able to crack. I actually feel sad that Sudoku showed up in our lives only after she had passed away. A maths teacher herself, and a very good one too, I am sure she would have been as crazy about Sudoku as her daughter and granddaughters are today. (Actually, that's not all correct- I suddenly got over Sudoku after playing it nonstop as I flew half way across the world last year).
Coming back to my mother's current obsession (though calling it current is rather odd cause she has been at it for at least 3 years) is a game called the Letter Linker. All day long you can hear a strange tuk-tuk sound as she joins connected letters to make words. Just when you think mom is watching TV, or painting, or reading a book, the tuk-tuk would tell you otherwise.
Different people react to it differently. Once at an airport somewhere in Asia (Kota Kinabalu perhaps), mom was playing while I sat next to her. Suddenly I felt an urge to look back- and there were 3-4 people bending over and intently watching her play the game! One of them, a young boy, later sat by mom to play with her and mom was happy about it. She is not so happy when Atreya sits with her to play. He forces her to try the most ridiculous letter combinations, which 99.99% of the times are incorrect, words like ETAN, MALIN, SHOPA, FATIR and what not. It frustrates her no end and usually ends up in my pulling Atreya out of her room after her screams...Puja isko yahan se lejaaa...can't be ignored anymore.
Last week, mom called me over to help her find the last 4 words in one of the boards. Last 4 words! Of 187 words! She had been playing that same board for the last 67 minutes, diligently finding the hidden jewels, and had already found 183 of them!
I am also quite a word game freak- that should explain her request for help. But I play in a timed mode. My SCRAMBLE board on iphone is programmed to end in 120 seconds. What thrills me is finding as many words as I can in 2 minutes and the maximum I have ever found are 61 words in a board that had 108 words. Once the time is up, I casually look for the words I didn't find, but don't care too much, because the fact is that even if I knew all the words that were on the board, 2 minutes wouldn't be long enough to hunt them down.
What is quite fascinating is that this difference between mother and daughter spills over in real life too. She is disciplined, diligent and patient. For example, she never missing her morning walks, come what may. She is often seen holding an umbrella and walking in the cold rain in the hills of Khanyara for a simple reason that it was time for her daily walk. She does her pranayam daily and takes her vitamins and other pills regularly. And when she starts watching a show on TV, she usually watches it to the end even if it's not the most interesting show.
I, on the other hand, am impatient and undisciplined, progressing in life through sparks of creativity and bursts of energy amid quiet periods. I only take the medicines when symptoms remind me to, often even forgetting my daily asthma preventive puff. I have an on now, off now affair with vitamins. I only form of exercise I can handle is dancing because the music and steps are different each time. I don't have the patience to sit through a TV show (except Law and Order) and often watch 2-3 shows at the same time, switching between channels.
So, when mom asked me to help her find the last 4 words on the board, I told her to call Atreya instead. She would have more luck with him!
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